Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

illustration from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

 The Bump under the Rug

“Ah! It’s a rat!” cried Mrs. Harris, my dear every Thursday bridge partner. “I’m not going in there anymore!”

“I’m telling you, it’s the fairies!” said tiny Mr. Field, with his tiny voice, trying to see something from behind Mrs. Harris who wouldn’t budge from the door despite her fear of rats. "They come every night!"

“Where’s your cat, Mr. James?” asked Barry, the delivery boy, in his usual cheeky tone.

“Right there,” I replied annoyed. Kitty was standing at the edge of the rug, too scared to attack, watching warily the big bump under the rug. The bump began moving again, even faster than before, toward that corner where the rug reached right underneath the big, old chest of drawers.

Under our four pairs of unbelieving eyes, the bump vanished. Kitty darted towards it, but it was too late.
Just like one week before. And one week before that, when it had first happened. Barry had been there too, and Mrs. Harris, and Mr. Field.

I said "good bye" to my neighbours, tipped Barry for delivering my bag of groceries from his uncle's store, and returned to my apartment.

I knew there was nothing behind the chest, because I had checked last time, but just to be sure, I checked again. Nothing. At least my neighbours had seen it too so I wasn't imagining things.

That night I didn't go to bed. I sat on the armchair, with a baseball bat in my right hand and a plastic bowl in the other, and waited. I was determined not to fall asleep this time so I didn't eat anything, not even the almond cake. Barry's uncle made a terrific cake.

Soon after midnight, I heard a scraping sound. I kept still, pretending to be asleep, but I was watching carefully. Soon enough, a bump began moving under the rug, from the corner underneath the chest. When it reached the center of the room, I jumped and threw the bowl over it.

Whatever it was, I had caught it.

"Let me go!" said a tinny voice.

I fell on my back.

The bump wasn't moving anymore, but it looked like it was shaking. Kitty was hissing loudly and wagging his tail.

"Who's talking?" I managed to say. "Who are you?"

"Let me go and I'll tell you."

"Talk, or I won't let you go. Who are you?"

"I'm the previous owner of the apartment above yours..."

Mr. Allen? How could that be? I knew him well. We'd been neighbours for twenty years. He'd recently sold his apartment and had moved to Florida. The apartment was rented now by a young woman, Miss Jones. How could that be?

"Do you like almond cake?" the tinny voice continued. "So did I... so much that I ate some every night. Barry's still delivering it, I see. All full of Uncle Gary's black magic. Until one night, it will be Uncle Gary delivering the cake. His spell will turn you into a doll too. A little, animated, docile doll...And then you too you'll have to obey him. Go through the apartments, steal things, scare people into selling them dirt-cheap to... guess who? Uncle Gary..."

Poor doll guy Mr. Allen. I felt sorry for him. I let him go after he promised not to bother me anymore. In fact, he was quite scared of Kitty so he was somehow glad that I found him so he couldn't come to my apartment anymore.
As for me, that was the last time I was going to eat almond cake, or any cake for that matter.

 Happy, Spooky Halloween!

And these are my carved pumpkins for this year...


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Supermoon Eclipse in my Garden

Can't believe I haven't posted here since early May... There was a fantastic show tonight and I'm happy I was able to witness it from my back yard. Perfect sky up until the eclipse was full and then clouds rushed in. Doesn't matter, I've seen all of it.

Hope to do this again in 2033!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

A Duck Story

A girl-duck and a boy-duck are swimming leisurely on my pool, which is yet to be prepared for summer...

This way... That way... in the mirror of the dark water...

Suddenly, a rival arrives...

The girl-duck promptly retreats to the safety of the lily of the valley yet to bloom... She waits... Do I detect a mischievous sparkle in her eye?

The boys have a game of war to play... Notice how the water around them tells their tale...

They both fly away. Then, after a while, one comes back. Peace has returned at last... Which one is he? I think it's the rival who's gone...

So beautiful, regardless...

By the way, Chick with a Quill turns eight today... :-)

Monday, April 27, 2015

One Day

image by pierrepaul43 on flickr

one day
the masks simply won’t
hold together anymore
the mask of happiness
the mask of enthusiasm
the mask of goodness
by tears
by sweat
by the uncontrollable
the mask of indifference
the mask of compassion
the mask of sadness
will peel off
like old paint

one day
it will be just my

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wanderings on Kindle

After five months of paperback-only life, “Wanderings on Darker Shores – a collection of strange tales and poems” is now also available as a Kindle ebook.

Strange how this feels bittersweet…

Setting up the paperback has been such an intense and satisfying job! I’ve found a lot of good advice on the Internet and I will probably share it here in a nutshell in a future post. From working on the cover with talented artist Steve Santiago and trying to follow editor Mark Durfee’s wonderful advice, to choosing fonts, and flourishes, and page set-up, and struggling with my own perfectionism, this has been an amazing journey.

Compared to it, setting the book up for Kindle —although still involving a bit of research— has proven almost anticlimactic, if I may say so.

The “real” book —and yes, I know I’m blowing my own horn— is so nice to hold in your hands that it’s certainly a pity that all of that is lost on Kindle. But that’s the way of the world now and we have to go with it…

So here they are, both of them, under the same cover…

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Not Lost - and a Bit of News

No, I did not get lost in Manhattan... though sometimes I wish I did... :-)

Thanks, everybody, for your comments and good wishes on my previous post. It's kind of late to answer them individually, but please know that I appreciate them and I am very grateful for all of them.

Since I returned home, I've been very busy writing a story at the request of Mike Davis, the editor and publisher of the Lovecraft eZine, who has published one of my stories before. That's done now and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he'll like it. :-)

Check out the very nice 5* review that "Wanderings on Darker Shores" got at  Pure Jonel ~ Confessions of a Bibliophile. There's also a giveaway for three paperbacks and five pdf copies that ends on April 17th.

And last, but not least, "Airships & Automatons", the steampunk anthology from White Cat Publications -with my story "The Thing with Feathers" in it-  is now available both as a Kindle ebook and as a paperback. Why not give it a try?

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Off to New York

So I'll be away for a week, going on my annual pilgrimage to New York City... I'm sorry that I haven't been able to visit all your blogs much lately, but I'll do my best to catch up when I return. :-)

I leave you with this hope for spring...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Our Life

photo from

stand to attention
life is passing by
in a huge float
a floral parade
your life her life my life
look how beautiful it is
look at all those dreams
like helium balloons
clap laugh cry clap
now it disappears around the corner
now it’s gone

Monday, February 23, 2015

And the Winners Are...

First of all, a huge THANK YOU to all those who have made out of this Indie Love blog hop such a fantastic event, bringing together authors, books, and readers.

Thank you, Debdata Dasgupta Sahay, from bookr3vi3ws, for making all of this possible and for inviting me to this event.

Roland, thank you for offering the gifts for the giveaway.

Thanks to all of you for participating in the giveaway and for the wonderful comments.

Without further ado... here are the winners:

20$ Amazon gift certificate:

Bethany N.

Audible audiobook of "Death in the House of Life"

Serena S.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Author Roland Yeomans + Giveaway

Celebrate Valentine's Day by showing some love for an Indie author and by participating in the blog hop hosted by Book R3vi3ws.

Meet or get reacquainted  with indie author Roland Yeomans.

His books are adventurous, philosophical, and exotic. Native American wisdom and folklore play a major role. His main characters are, above all, Human, no matter what else they are.

Samuel McCord, Texas ranger and undead; Victor Standish, son of the Angel of Death; Alice Wentworth,the Victorian Ghoul; Hibbs, the Bear with Two Shadows; Wolf Howl, the Last Shaman… Historical figures often make appearances. Among them are Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and Nikola Tesla, the fabled inventor, and even Marlene Dietrich, the German movie star.

Their stories take place in the same universe, in which New Orleans is a magical centre, but their quests take them from New Zealand to Egypt, to the Badlands, and more. The novels are written in such a way that there is no need to read them chronologically; there’s enough in each of them to give a good idea of who the characters are and of the setting, and thus enjoy them separately.

The Legend of Victor Standish
 I studied the rough people in the bus seats around me. Not one Mother Theresa among them. They were all predators. The night made them only more dangerous. The caveman in each of us climbs closer to the surface during the night, for the moon sings to him, and the cold emptiness between the stars speaks his language. To that savage self, evil can look lovely in too little light.

 French Quarter Nocturne
 Meilori’s shade danced open-armed in front of me. What does love look like? What is its color? A white flash of fright. A billowing wave of warmth, its reach beyond the microscope and further than the length of hope. Is it a jewel sparkling in the night? Or a whisper murmuring within the corridors of the heart? Once more Meilori danced across the velvet grass, her empty arms beckoning to me. Her soft voice carried like a specter in the dark. Her words brushed by me and into my soul. “Beloved, one last dance."

Her Bones are in the Badlands
It’s enough to be in stark places like the Badlands of South Dakota, to be alone a while in a place where all I can hear is the lonely wind blowing, where all I can see is the earth stretching all around me into the far distant mountains. I look up into the wide embrace of the endless night. Life sings to me again, and I know I am not lost.

Return of the Last Shaman
The night had strung death like beads along the thread of its hours." "The blue of this anemic dawn was a visual silence. Yet, the ravaged face of the moon still dimly hung in the awakening sky like the mockery of childhood dreams. I could touch neither the moon nor those long ago dreams so I turned to the other half of my heart.

The Stars Bleed at Midnight
I suspect each of us rode toward a different shrine, the same only in name. For the destination men name is only the destination of surface.

Death in the House of Life
 In this wilderness there was no greed, no vanity, no hypocrisy. Only a lasting throb of green growth. And the eternal quiet. I always knew that this was the way I would go. A knife or a gun in hand, my teeth bared at the enemy like an old wolf falling away into the endless void, defiant and fighting to the end.

 Find out more about Roland and his books at his blog, Writing in the Crosshairs.

Enter the giveaway to win a 20$ Amazon gift card - first place, or an audiobook of "Death in the House of Life," - second place.

Eternal evil never looked so beautiful. Before Indiana Jones… Before Allan Quartermain... There was... Samuel McCord. Join the cursed Texican as he clashes with the last survivor of an extinct species in the Missouri of 1848. He communes with the Spirit of the Earth in the Hawaii of 1866. He is betrayed into the hands of the British government in 1895 Cairo. Thrill to his escapes from ancient death traps in the ruins of the lost city of Tanis. Match wits with him as he duels grey aliens and seeks to decipher the mysteries left behind by the aliens who were the basis for the gods of Ancient Egypt. As he seeks to save the world and his marriage from the monster that is the eternal beauty, Meilori Shinseen, the Empress of a race from beyond the stars... and his wife. Doc Savage had no wilder crew to back him up than does Samuel McCord - Mark Twain… Oscar Wilde… The genius Nikola Tesla… The undead Ada Byron, creator of the first computer language in the 1840's. And the incomparable She Who Devours, the model for the Sphinx… Empress Meilori Shinseen… McCord's beloved wife. And the probable Destroyer of our world.

Contest is open internationally, where applicable by law. Entries close at 11:59pm EST Feb 20/15. Winners will be announced Feb 23/15.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Also visit, if you'd like, Wanderings on Darker Shores, the blog of my book, for a glimpse inside and another great giveaway.


Don't forget to visit the other participants in the blog hop to discover other Indie authors and show them some readers' love...


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dream of Love

photograph taken almost one year ago in Central Park, Manhattan

this is my hope

to sleep and dream of you

and have your smile
which while awake knows not of me
know me alone

and have this dream
in which your eyes
find —raw— in mine
the very essence
of your love
keep warm my soul

until I dream again

of you

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Airships & Automatons

About two and a half years ago I was posting here a poem by Emily Dickinson, Hope is the Thing with Feathers. I was saying that I had found it while searching for a title for a story I had just written. It was doubly important to me because it had two things that were in my story: the "thing with feathers" and "hope".

Well, soon after that, editor Charles (Chuck) P. Zaglanis accepted my "(The) Thing with Feathers" for the anthology he was editing for White Cat Publications. The anthology was supposed to come out in Autumn 2013. That didn't happen. I was disappointed and sad, but ultimately didn't lose hope. After all, I had  written the story specifically for this anthology and I had no intention of finding another home for it. Then, at the end of December 2014, Chuck contacted me again with the contracts to sign...

So today I'm very happy to announce that "Airships & Automatons" is back on track, flying high, and it should be available in March. My story is in it!!! And in great company!

Spanning the ages between ancient Greece and a far flung and dying future. - See more at:

Spanning the ages between ancient Greece and a far flung and dying future. - See more at: story is in it!!! And in great company!
Spanning the ages between ancient Greece and a far flung and dying future, this is the final ToC from Chuck's Facebook page:

THE DOG-FACED CANNIBAL by Christine Purcell
ALL THE KING’S MONSTERS by Megan Arkenberg

MEMPHIS BBQ by Cat Rambo

A HORRIFIED MIND by Ferrel D. Moore
HAN AIR by Nghi Vo
IRON & BRASS, BLOOD & BONE by Alma Alexander

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

About a Certain Martian

"I'm pretty much fucked.

That's my considered opinion.


Six days into what should be the greatest two months of my life, and it's turned into a nightmare.

I don't even know who'll read this. I I guess someone will find it eventually. Maybe a hundred years from now.

For the record... I didn't die on Sol 6. Certainly the rest of the crew thought I did, and I can't blame them. Maybe there'll be a day of national mourning for me, and my Wikipedia page will say, "Mark Watney is the only human being to have died on Mars."

And it'll be right, probably. 'Cause I'll surely die here. Just not on Sol 6 when everybody thinks I did."


Mark Watney is Andy Weir. Or Andy Weir is Mark Watney. I would have said it even if I hadn’t read the interview in Entertainment Weekly. But what he says there confirms it. “My theory is that every protagonist is someone the author wants to be or who the author wants to screw. Just so we’re clear, Mark Watney is who I want to be. He has all the qualities I like about myself magnified without any of the qualities I dislike.”

Read the whole interview. It’s a very cool one.

The whole book is in fact a vehicle for Andy Weir to be Mark Watney and to have an adventure on Mars. And that’s all right.

The other characters seem to be there only to deliver dialogue and move forward the story about what’s happening to Watney/Weir on Mars. I suppose their behaviour is typical of NASA employees at that level and in such situations. I don’t know. I’ve certainly seen it in many movies dealing with space realistically. Many other reviewers have complained about the two-dimensionality of these characters. I say that there’s no use in knowing more about them; it would be just unnecessary details.

Because “The Martian” is a story with one character, or —okay— let’s say two at most: the protagonist —Mark Watney, and the antagonist —Mark Watney’s bad luck.

Mars is not really the antagonist. Mars is just the background. If there’s one thing I would’ve liked Andy Weir to do more, is to have Mars be more than just the background, share more descriptions of what must only be incredible, desolate vistas. 

Each page is heavily laced with scientific musings and calculations, so, if you’re not (very) scientifically inclined, you might find it boring to read.

Actually, this is not a science-fiction novel. This is a very realistic novel. People haven’t stepped on Mars yet but they will pretty soon.

There is one thing though that I don’t understand. In the book, NASA spent a lot of resources on these missions to Mars and, obviously, they knew that there are dust storms there, some so big that they could envelop the whole planet. So how come such a well-planed, expensive mission is aborted just a few days in because of a storm?

Obviously, Watney “needed” to be abandoned on Mars and with plenty of resources left behind by his teammates, but I cannot believe that NASA didn’t have a solution for such a scenario. Maybe an anchoring system for the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle) or something like that? After all, all these missions, of which Watney’s was the third,  were based on the MAV sitting there and producing fuel for the return ascent to orbit long before the crew even arrived to Mars.

However, the need to hastily abandon the planet comes from the danger of the MAV tipping over because of the high winds. Apparently, it was calculated for 150 kph winds and what they got there was 175 kph. And those winds were starting to tip the MAV over.

No. No. No. I’m sorry, but no.

According to Mars-One, “Mars has a very thin atmosphere, about 1% of Earth’s atmosphere. Because of this, hurricane forces on Mars feel like a gentle breeze on Earth. The problem of a storm is not that it will push you over or destroy material, the problem is that Mars is extremely “dusty”.” Read more about this at Space Exploration.

Mariner 9 has recorded wind gusts of 500 to 600 km/hr (or 300-375 miles/hr) and typical wind speeds in the Martian atmosphere exceed 200 km/hr (or 125 miles/hr). That doesn’t match with the 175 kph.

That being said, I simply cannot believe that the author, who seems to have researched and to have got the science brilliantly on everything else, could’ve made such a mistake. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there’s a catch. If you know it, please share it with me.
Leaving this aside, I loved the story and I loved Mark Watney. His ingenuity and his optimism are infinite and contagious. It was a pleasure reading his logs. His somewhat childish ways, his humour, and his use of profanity are not only endearing but also —I think— his way of overcoming one of the direst situations into which someone might find themselves.

He’s a great guy, made of the stuff the first astronauts and cosmonauts were made of.

"I need to ask myself, "What would an Apollo astronaut do?"

He'd drink three whisky sours, drive his Corvette to the launchpad, the fly to the moon in a command module smaller than my Rover. Man, those guys were cool."

Watney reminded me of “If the Sun Dies” (Se il Suole muore) a book about the early American Space program by the Italian journalist, author and political interviewer Oriana Fallaci. If you can find it, read it. If you can't find it, at least read the quote here from “If the Sun Dies" —it’s amazing!

And isn’t it a case of very good writing when you pretty much know the outcome and, yet, you’re still on the edge of your seat reading the story? I think that it is.

I gave “The Martian” five stars wholeheartedly.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Taking Turns

This pair of cardinals has been gracing my backyard for many years and I was very worried about them during the brutal cold we had a few days ago, minus 18 F or minus 36 F with the windchill...

But here they are, on this balmy day of 12 F... Big sigh of relief...

They're always taking turns. He eats, she watches. She eats, he watches. Could be also because there's not enough space for them to eat at the same time... Welcome back!

He eats...

She watches...
He watches...
She eats...

Monday, January 05, 2015

Well, Hello 2015

I'm sorry to say that 2014 hasn't been a good year for me. I didn't write about this on the blog -although I did write a post or two that I chose not to publish- because I simply didn't want to think about it, couldn't think about it. Someone extremely dear to me lost her battle with cancer in June, and bad things happened to other people about whom I care a lot.

There is one thing that "saved" me, in a way, and that was working on my novel, my short stories, and preparing the collection of short stories for publication. You know, something like in Simon and Garfunkel's "I am a rock:"

I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;

Holding that real book in my hands was certainly the high moment of the year.

So, what can I say about 2015? I certainly wish it's a very happy one for all of you, for everybody. Probably for the first time in many years, I didn't feel the moment between the 31st of december and the 1st of January as a threshold. 2015 doesn't feel like a new beginning, or a new hope. It's more like this:

I had no idea that this was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for the WWII. Well, I can certainly use it this year... and perhaps I won't be just drifting away... like in this song that I love and that sometimes doesn't let me sleep at night with its obsessive refrain....

So, allow me to wish you all the best: good health, love, good books, and good music.... and if you haven't bought it yet, perhaps you might consider buying my book this year...

...from or Amazon. ca. Thank you! :-) :-) :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Old Man and the Squirrels

Where was Quiqui? He couldn’t leave without him.

The old man listened harder. There had been a crashing sound not far. Coming from the big house, the nice house all lit up. He started towards it, painfully dragging his left leg; the cold made it hurt even more than usual.

 “Dirty squirrel! Go away! You’re the one destroying my flowers all summer long!”

 A squirrel darted on the sidewalk, barely avoiding the broom maneuvered by a big woman. A car screeched around the corner – dissonant in the silence of the night – and sped carelessly down the street. In its wake, the squirrel was a small trembling bundle on the ice-covered curb.

 “Quiqui, come!” the old man said, gently despite his hammering heart, and opening his large coat. “You forget there are no acorns left. You’ve become as old as me, my friend...”

 The squirrel jumped high and scurried inside the old man’s coat.
“You too, tramp!” yelled the woman even louder. “Go away or I'll call the police!”

 For a short moment, the old man contemplated the idea of spending the night at the police station, warm for once, maybe even with a small piece of something to eat. But he could not...

 He turned his back to the woman and began walking away as quickly as his bad leg would allow him, tightening his coat around him against the bitter cold.

The house was so big that it took the old man a while to go past it. He didn’t look up; it was enough to see the colored lights reflecting on the frozen sidewalk and he could imagine the beautiful, warm, shining things inside. Another world.

 Only once, he glimpsed up and then he saw her. From the last window, a young girl dressed in white and silver was watching him with wide eyes. An angel. He tightened the collar of the coat around his neck and walked faster. If he walked all night, in the morning he could be in the country and there...

 “Sir! Sir!”

 Small hurried feet tapped behind him on the frozen sidewalk.

 The old man stopped and turned around. The girl from the window was standing there, wearing only her beautiful silver dress. 

 “You should go back inside,” he said kindly. “You'll catch a cold.”

 “Sir, is it true what I've seen? Do you have a squirrel in your coat?”

 Her voice was like chimes, full of excitement and anticipation.

 “I have several,” he said, tilting his head towards her with a mysterious air.

“Please, sir, can I see them?”

The old man opened one side of his coat. In the lining, he had sewn six large pockets and out of each pocket, a squirrel was showing its little head.

The little girl’s eyes widened. One was surely the black one that Mrs. Fanu had just chased away. Three others were grey. There was also an albino. And a red one was wearing a red and white scarf around his neck.

 “That's Fifi,” said the old man, following the girl’s gaze. “She is very sensitive to the cold...”

 “But... But...”

Excitement and disbelief mixed on the little girl’s face in an almost comical way.

“They are my friends. They are cold, hungry... I take care of them. They are my friends...”

 The girl glance over her shoulder. By one of the towering windows, a gigantic Christmas tree sparkled in all colors. It was warm in her house and it smelled of cinnamon cake.

 “Don’t you have a home, sir?”

 “Yes, several.” He smiled and pointed to a bench from the park on the other side of the street, the one opposite the statue of the knight. The bushes had lost most of their leaves and the bench was visible from the sidewalk. “There it is. That’s my summer house.”

The little girl frowned.

I've never seen you there, she wanted to tell him but that wasn’t true. She had seen him every day but she had never looked at him. Except when her friends had made fun of his long worn out coat that he was wearing even in July. When she had laughed as loud as the others.

 “And in winter?” she said. Shame was making her cheeks very hot. 

 “My winter house is behind the supermarket in Clinton Street.”

 “Aren’t you cold?”
“Yes, sometimes it is very cold.” He wanted to say more but then he suddenly changed his mind. “Excuse me, but I have to go now. It’s good for me to walk. Walking ... it helps with the cold... Good bye, little girl.”

 The little girl’s heart felt incredibly heavy.

 “Are you leaving?” she called after him.

He stopped again, even more reluctant this time.

 “Yes ... They took all my boxes ... I have nowhere to sleep. And ... There is a new guard and he doesn’t like to see me in his park. He doesn’t like my friends, the squirrels. There are also more and more cars ... Last week, Quiqui almost got hit by a – Well, even today… We’re leaving. In the country, there will be more food for us and maybe some work for me. Goodbye ... you're very kind for coming to talk to me...”

 The girl thought harder. She wanted so much to help this old man.

 Suddenly, she had an idea.

 “Can you repair a faucet?”

 The old man frowned. What a strange question...

 “In fact, yes… I was a plumber when I was young, before... before all of this...”

A little smile passed briefly over the old man’s eyes.

“You are too young, of course,” he said, “but forty years ago there’s been a huge flooding and no one seemed to know how to fix it –”

“I know! My grandpa told me this story! A real hero saved the town. You saved my house too. Was it really you, sir?”

“It was just a broken pipe, nothing else. I was just able to find it and fix it, that’s all…”

The little girl smiled happily.

 “Listen, I know that my father is looking for a new caretaker. He’ll be home tomorrow. This is a very old house. Ancient… There is a leaky faucet next to my parents’ bedroom. Nobody seems to be able to repair it and the noise keeps my father awake all night long. You don’t want to be next to him when he’s grumpy. The former janitor got scared and left. But I’m sure that you’ll know how to fix it, sir. Please, come inside to shelter and tomorrow everything will work out just fine. You’ll see... This evening you can relax in the hall, under the stairs. It is warm and...”

 The little girl’s enthusiasm brought tears to the old man’s eyes.

 “Thanks,” he said. “You're a very nice young girl. But I cannot leave my squirrels alone. Really, they have no one else but me... Thank you ... but I couldn’t. Thank you...”

 He turned his back to her again, not just to walk away but to hide his tears too. Tricky tears, they always did what they wanted.

 “No, sir,” she cried. “You misunderstood me. You are all invited!”

He felt her small hand on his arm.

“Please, sir! Come!”


It was warm in the hall. Almost too warm for the old man who hadn’t known anything else but the cold for such a long time. The sweet Christmas music sounded to him like a forgotten lullaby. Quiqui, Riri, Doudou, Fifi, Coco, and Snow-White were quieter than ever, they too almost asleep. His little squirrels… his children…

Heavy steps stopped in front of him. It was the lady with the broom. He tried to stand, scared that she was going to chase him away, but she smiled to him gently. She put a large silver tray in front of him.

“Here you are,” she said. “There’s soup and bread for you, and a lot of nuts for your friends. Merry Christmas, sir!”

“Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!”


Merry Christmas, everybody!